Zinedine Zidane is set to ring the changes for the trip south to Andalusia, with the injured Cristiano Ronaldo – who is awaiting news of scan results on the right ankle he injured in El Clasico against Barcelona – one man who is certain not to travel.
Los Blancos, of course, have more than one eye on the Champions League final against Liverpool in Kiev on May 26. But they will want to finish the domestic campaign strongly and catch rivals Atletico Madrid in second.
Diego Simeone’s men are three points ahead of the Whites and have two matches remaining, however Real have three – starting with Sevilla, a home clash with Celta Vigo this coming weekend and a final day of the season trip to Villarreal.
Given the two teams have an equal head-to-head following two draws this season, the Whites – providing they win their remaining three matches – will finish ahead of Atleti on goal difference.
RONALDO MIGHT NOT PLAY AGAIN IN LA LIGA THIS SEASON
The club legend is recovering from the ankle sprain he suffered at Camp Nou and while Madrid have kept quiet over the scan he had on the injury, the noises around their Valdebebas training base is that it is nothing more than a bit of bruising and a sprain.
Ronaldo is a quick healer and his machine-like build, coupled with the physiotherapist attention he receives on a daily basis regardless if he has and a physical problem or not, should see him get back on the grass sooner rather than later. Madrid are fortunate in the fact that they can get through their final three matches of the season without little fuss and don’t necessarily need Ronaldo to chase down Atleti.
That is, perhaps, a blessing as the man himself won’t feel the need to cut corners on what should be a relatively straight-forward rehabilitation process to get him ready to face the Merseysiders. From a personal perspective, there is no Golden Shoe or Pichichi Trophy on the line for the 33-year-old either, so his numbers will not suffer.
There is though a school of thought that Ronaldo will return to full training a week on Monday and then at least play some part in the El Madrigal contest on May 19. Either way, he will be available for the Champions League final. Until then, the other two halves of BBC – Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale – will try and share the goalscoring burden.
RAMOS SET TO RENEW REUNION WITH SEVILLA ULTRAS
The iconic club captain knows all about what returning to his former club feels like. For starters, he’s been doing it since his €27 million (Dh117.7m) move from his boyhood side way back in 2005. But, given the fairly ugly scenes we saw last season, Zidane may have been tempted to rest his key centre-back like he did late last month against Leganes.
Ramos’ dinked penalty goal and cup of his ears to the club’s ultras fan base during the 3-3 Copa del Rey draw in January 2017, during which Real went onto progress on aggregate through to the quarter-finals, did little for his reputation among those people who used to sing his name.
But, just three days after that contest last year, he had a taste of his own medicine when he headed an own goal during their league meeting at the same venue, which Sevilla won 2-1, bringing to an abrupt halt Madrid’s 40-match unbeaten streak.
Make no mistake, Ramos – as the leader of this team – will not want to be left out nor can Los Blancos call upon many alternative options to replace him. But, he is a player that can get caught up in the heat of the moment, especially during this game and a record 24 La Liga red cards is proof of that. Zidane should air of the side of caution should things become problematic.
TIME TO TEST ISCO AND LET HIM HAVE A DISCO
Madrid have missed the playmaker’s absence through a shoulder sprain in their past three matches. His artistry would have certainly come in handy during the second leg Champions League clash with Bayern Munich and against Barcelona last weekend.
As it was, the 26-year-old may have benefited from some rest time and was still able to train given his injury did not prevent him from ball work, running and regular lower body strength and conditioning in the gym. He should bring a fresh dynamism to a midfield that looked leggy in the second-half at Camp Nou.
Indeed, either Luka Modric or Toni Kroos could be spared to the bench to help Isco get some game time and find his groove once again.
The likes of Achraf Hakimi, Theo Hernandez, Mateo Kovacic and Lucas Vazquez could all be in contention to get a run it with Nacho possibly rested and Dani Carvajal – who has been training alone in the Spanish capital – still stepping up his recovery from injury.
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3:12pm – A look back through time at Cristiano Ronaldo’s injuries
With Cristiano Ronaldo set to have a scan on Monday to determine the full extent of the right ankle injury sustained in Sunday’s El Clasico, Stuart Appleby takes a look at the few previous times the Portugal powerhouse has spent time on the sidelines.
Take a look here.
2:05pm – Sergio Ramos admits Real didn’t put the ball out on purpose
Sergio Ramos has revealed that based on his previous experience with Luis Suarez, he told his team not to send the ball out of play when the striker appeared to be injured during the 2-2 El Clasico draw on Sunday, a decision that got the Camp Nou whistling and agitated.
“Knowing Luis Suarez, I made clear that we wouldn’t put the ball out of play,” the defender explained during the post-match press conference.
Read the full story here.
1:15pm – Zidane on Barcelona’s unbeaten streak
With just three games left in the Spanish league now, what does Los Blancos manager Zinedine Zidane have to say about rivals Barca’s unbeaten streak?
Watch what the Madrid manager had to say in this video.
11:15am – Ramos criticises Messi’s influence
10:00am – Doubts over Ronaldo’s fitness
Cristiano Ronaldo is set to find out the full extent of his ankle injury which forced him off the pitch at half-time during Sunday night’s El Clasico match.
He is set for a scan today.
Read more, here.
There were four goals, a red card and plenty of skirmishes as Barca twice took the lead, initially through Luis Suarez and then Lionel Messi – the latter scored despite being reduced to 10 men after Sergi Roberto was sent off – either side of Cristiano Ronaldo‘s equaliser.
Gareth Bale scored a spectacular second for Real as the hosts’ unbeaten run lives on.
Here, Andy West rates the Madrid players:
Keylor Navas – 7: Came out well at Messi’s feet in first half and saved well on three occasions from the Argentine in the second.
Nacho – 5: Looked off the pace on his return to action, seeing yellow for a foul on Suarez before being replaced.
Raphael Varane – 6: Good early block to deny Suarez a clear chance. Booked for pulling back Suarez and lost out in second goal.
Sergio Ramos – 7: A generally good performance but could have been sent off after provoking a needless tussle with Suarez.
Marcelo – 7: Repeatedly out of position defensively but repeatedly a threat going forward – so a fairly typical performance.
Luka Modric – 7: Helped Madrid take control of the game in the first half and always looked classy in possession.
Casemiro – 7: Very good game defensively. Subdued Messi in the first half and regularly broke up Barca attacks.
Toni Kroos – 6: Great run and cross to spark leveller, but he wasn’t always able to exert a major influence.
Gareth Bale – 5: Struggled defensively against Alba and did little going forward until he pounced with a fine strike for the leveller.
Karim Benzema – 6: Regularly dropped deep to link play, combining well for Ronaldo in the first half. Quiet after the break.
Cristiano Ronaldo – 8: Outstanding before being forced off with a foot injury at half-time. Scored the equaliser and regularly threatened more.
Marco Asensio – 5: Came on for Ronaldo at half-time. Fired early chance at Ter Stegen but did little else.
Lucas Vazquez – 6: Played the final 20 minutes at right-back and was steady, but wasted some good crossing positions.
Mateo Kovacic – N/A: Late entrant for Kroos in midfield.